Saturday, November 29, 2008

Even Anger has an agenda

I just finished watching a panel discussion on ibnlive with Rajdeep Sardesai with Shobhaa, Nikhil Wagle, Deora, and a couple of others.

As a viewer, it was very interesting to see and hear the various agendas of the panel participants and the degree of vehemency with which thier view was presented. While the emotion of anger was a common denominator, for each the object of thier anger and thier solutions offered were just slightly different.

The young "hope of south mumbai" Milind Deora impressed the least in his bumbling attempts to deflect any suggestion that as a elected politician he could and should own up to any responsibility for reform at the simplest level (for which he is well funded)... the constituency level. His argument that attempts to change anything at a legislative level will result in further politicising terrorism, are completely stupid and iresponsible. Terrorism is inherently a socio-politico-religious matter. Accept it for what it is and take the bull by the horns. Why be cowardly about debating the tough questions? Should we add cowardly and conviniently blind to the list of nasty attributes that we associate politicians with? I was appalled at his attitude. His suggestion that infrastructure and the bureucracy and strategy be "fixed" first before politicians are brought to task was preposterous. The rot starts from bad leadership in the first place. With a corrupt political will the best infrastructure will mean nothing. It does not matter how many subinspectors are moved around and how many bulletproof vests are distributed or how many commisioners heads roll. Unless the man at the top is made accountable, nothing will change. Milind Deora should be ashamed of himself. I am afraid Milind has learned his political lessons too well at the knee of family.

MN Singh had good points to make as a tried and tested bureaucrat and his clearly defining the role of the local police... for civic policing, not for terrorism policing and rescue... was something that needed to be reiterated for us to hear. I agree that we need different bodies to take care of different types of security and that it should be more decentralised. I hope someone is taking notes!

The person on the panel who I found the most interesting was Nikhil Wagle who is a journalist from the local Marathi media. He certainly had his finger on the pulse of the "aam janta"... the people who make the machine that is Mumbai... actually work. He begs for civic leadership and political will to change the scenario of a presently leaderless but "willing to help" populace... Mumbaikars who are moved and willing to make a grassroots difference. Put that man on a steering committee or a citizens think tank.! I think he will have valuable input along with the pragmatism that comes with being a journalist in the thick of political reporting.

Shobhaa your expression of impatience with the present status quo is finely tuned and your display of righteous civic anger will make a big difference. Now it will bode well, if only more regular people will speak up and keep aflame the fire of this civic disgust at ineptitude. I am so glad you say what is to be said. We must as ordinary citizens take your lead and hammer away at it too.

And Rajdeep, brilliant journalist and interrogator that you are, please speak slower and less excitedly. It helps if we can understand what you are saying when you are totally impassioned.

On a personal note Shobhaa, I am so glad that at the end of the panel, you paid tribute to the people at the VT Station and non prestige locations that were ALSO victims of willful and malicious terrorism. They are being too soon forgotten, in the rush to focus on the more glamorous(?) aspects of this tragedy.

I personally pay tribute to all the armed service, security and municipal agency personell who risked life and limb to bring about an end to this madness. In particular I would like to remember and salute the bravery and professionalism of the Fire Department of Mumbai who battled raging infernos under gunfire (despite being unarmed) and who rescued so many from a certain death. There have been too few kudos given to them in all the round of congratulatory messages.

My suggestions about what can be done... why there are all in the preceeding paragraphs! Lets start with what Milind Deora and his ilk should NOT DO as politicians...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan and Thanksgiving

It broke my heart to see old haunts destroyed and tainted with the violent acts of war. It hurts so badly when I see the exact places I spent my innocent childhood and misguided youth... rent asunder like this.

This time, the violence fill me with emotions that are different from anything I have felt before. As much as I want to be all rational and grown up about it, I am filled with a rage and a desire for base animalistic revenge. But against whom? Who do we condemn and fight with as we demand our basic rights as citizens of a peaceful world? Should I fight the enemies, within or without or just my own complacency or the complacency of those who allow such things to happen? Whose fault is it? Is it even rational to place blame on any one doorstep? Will I be fighting a tangible enemy or will I just be shadow boxing with ideological abberations?

In a few hours, I am going to be at Thanksgiving dinner with all my inlaws. Today, I am supposed to be thankful for everything and pay tribute to all the opportunities and people in my life. The irony of it!

Can I really be sincere about it today, when I am filled with emotions of rage and sadness? Can I sit there, make small talk with family and friends and drink a toast to peace and happiness without the bitter bile of anguish tainting everything? Am I even supposed to?

Today I am going to have to reassure my American sister in law and teenage nieces that it is still okay to come to India with me next August.. that it will be peaceful and that India is really not always in the throes of violence. They loved thier previous trips to India and are always asking when they can come next. Will they still feel this way today? How much do I have to explain away?

I hope atleast this time, Mumbai will not go into "Business as usual" mode in a effort to show resilience. We have shown resilience so many times, I wonder if it is actually insensitivity now. Mumbai needs to make a HUGE STINK about it and continue to hammer the message home over and over in national and international arenas, until it gets the kind of noteriety and attention that a Madrid, or London or New York got. I realise that the vast numbers of poor people who depend on daily wages have to go on everyday despite the trouble. For them resilience is nessecary. However, I sincerely hope that big business and politicians show the will to highlight this despicable act for what it is. Mumbaikars need to show the world how badly terrorism hurts them for something to be done through political means.

Wake up Vilasrao and show the canny leadership we should expect of CM's of a premier state like Maharashtra. Go on, show the political will to help the city and free it from the clutches of ideological and physical violence. Can you? Or is a more OPENLY communal minded Raj Thackeray, the better alternative so that Mumbaikars can sleep with some reassurance that they will be not be murdered in thier sleep by terrorism.

Today, instead of only speaking of how thankful I am for my good fortunes as I eat a meal with my family, I will pay tribute to all Mumbaikars whose faith, will and lives have been destroyed by acts of willful and malicious violence.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Picchur dekha!

So I am back tonight after seeing Dostana!

Stay tuned for my peanut gallery comments. I should get to putting them down sometime tomorrow.

Blogger powers that be... won't you be kind?

Why has my blog been identified as a spam blog?

And I was going to be so good and post all kinds of interesting things. Oh well!

The powers that be at blogger, please consider turning that spamblog thing off for me. Won't you, oh won't you reply to me?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Idherich Hoon!

That's right. Idherich Hoon!